Thao P. Nguyen is a Artist, Activist, and Academic. She just finished up a solo performance run of her show Fortunate Daughter at Berkeley’s Impact Theatre. Erik Core talks to Thao about her training in performance art and comedy, studying under comedy legend W. Kamau Bell, and winning his “W. Kamau Bell Solo Performance Black Belt,” a distinction which to this date has been awarded only four times. She also discusses her academic and personal background, and lets us know about her street performance entitled “Buddha Loves You” where she performs alongside religious zealots on the streets of San Francisco.
Thao has been writing and performing solo shows since she joined the Solo Performance Workshop in 2007. She has been featured as a closing act at the San Francisco Theater Festival for four years running (2009-2012). In August 2012, Nguyen brought her full-length one-women comedy, Fortunate Daughter, to the New York International Fringe Festival, where she garnered rave reviews and sold out shows. Fortunate Daughter returned to San Francisco in October 2012, playing at Stage Werx Underground Theatre in a completely sold-out run. The show’s most recent run at Berkeley’s Impact Theatre in the Summer of 2013, left Bay Area audiences laughing hysterically and quoting lines from the show during the whole ride home.
Nguyen is holds a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree from the University of California at Berkeley, a Master of Arts (MA) degree in Communication Studies with a focus on Performance Studies from San Francisco State University, and a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Psychology from Brown University. As an academic, her area of study is at the intersection of live performance, mental health, and social justice. She is particularly interested in increasing the visibility and understanding of issues most pertinent to populations experiencing multiple vectors of structural oppression, such as Asian American women and Queer and Trans People of Color (QTPOC). She is currently an instructor of public speaking and performance at San Francisco State University. She also is the Performing Arts Coordinator for the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center of San Francisco.